News The democracy sausage in safe hands, with rules to keep food poisoning at bay
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The democracy sausage in safe hands, with rules to keep food poisoning at bay

Sausage sizzles and food stalls are common sights at voting venues around Australia on election day. Photo: AAP
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As election-day hotplates are fired up around the country, health authorities hope the occasion doesn’t deliver an outbreak of food poisoning.

A federal poll in the middle of May is unlikely to unleash heatwave conditions that attract the kinds of nasties that readily contaminate an outdoors spread or the much-celebrated Democracy Sausages.

Saturday’s temperatures are expected to climb into the low 20s in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and hover in the mid teens in Melbourne, Hobart and Canberra.

Darwin and Queensland’s far north are, of course, the exceptions, with likely tops well into the 30s.

Nonetheless, vote casting is an all-day affair and democracy barbecues and cake fundraisers are decidedly outdoor events that pose risks beyond the political, according to the experts.

Food Safety Information Council chair Cathy Moir says sausage sizzles and bake sales are great to raise money for schools and community organisations, but care is needed to make sure they don’t become spreaders of food-borne illness.

She says every slap-up and treat stall should have a supervisor to make sure everyone follows food safety rules.

A separate person should be designated to take orders and money so the cooks can concentrate on handling the food safely.

Running water and soap need to be available wherever raw meat or poultry is being handled, and going to the toilet, face- or hair-touching, nose-blowing and leaving stalls to shake hands with election-day customers are all serious no-nos.

Never handle food for others while feeling unwell, and when transporting eats only travel a short distance and make sure they are covered and cool.

Meat cuts should be kept under 5 degrees Celsius until it is time to slap them on the barbie, and a probe thermometer should be used to check that sausages, hamburger patties and poultry are cooked to at least 75 degrees Celsius.

“If you run a cake stall, don’t include riskier ingredients such as fresh cream or raw or partially cooked eggs,” Ms Moir said.

“Make sure cakes are covered to protect them from insects and people sneezing on them.”

Fundraisers might also need to be registered with local councils.